"Humboldt is kind," as someone said to Ames. Minutes after we arrived, I was walking to the laundromat to drop off clothes when a white guy with dreads jumps out of a car and hands me a Bud and a fat joint. As I dropped off my laundry I could smell the sweet skunky odor rising out of my pants pocket, yikes! I decided not to go by the organic market across the street. If I could smell it, the residents of this town would recognize the smell instantly. I don't personally indulge but others in our group do, so I passed the gift on.
By mid-morning the town square was filling with drummers, stoners, and travelers. Someone later said this town was a kind of lost and found. Folks who get lost and can't find their way often find a safe haven here.
I pedal to the outskirts of town, to the Chamber of Commerce in a kind of industrial park. I am searching for more info on the Redwood National Park just north of here. We're planning a class trip tomorrow, our day off, and maybe some short hikes too. But the hotel didn’t have maps or guidebooks. This place has them. The parks are 30 miles north but there are redwood groves everywhere. Arcata has its own little grove and park behind the university where we are playing. It's crisscrossed with paths and bike trails and some of us get sort of lost in there.
Jon (the LD on this leg) and I spend about an hour before sound check looking at our lighting situation. I am making some slight changes in Suzanne's design and will therefore lose some instruments and gear — a savings — and will probably pick up some other additional lights in San Francisco to achieve another look. Suzanne, who did the previous North American leg, couldn't do this one, but she left Jon copious notes, which was incredibly helpful. All and all, the show is looking better than ever.
Tonight after the show a bunch of us glide downhill from the venue and meet at one of the bars on the town square. Mauro and I call and discover Tracy, Leigh, and Ames in the very last one, Everett's.
We play some pool, and I recall from nights in Austin that Leigh and Tracy are pretty good. Leigh is cleaning up.
Next day we rent some SUVs and caravan up the coast, stopping first at Lady Bird Johnson Grove in the National Park. God bless Lady Bird. LBJ may have been the consummate politician, but her campaigns on behalf of parks and "beautification" are still around. It's a pleasant walk among giants, ferns, rhododendron, and gnarly trunks.
Next we stop to get some snacks and drive on a super dusty dirt road over the forested hills to the beach. From there, we go up to fern canyon, which winds inland like some primeval set from a dinosaur movie.
We wade in the surf, which is freezing cold. It's all very idyllic. An eagle flies overhead carrying a still squirming fish in its claws. Elk with giant antlers graze at the roadside.
Lastly, we stop at a place called Big Tree, which is aptly, if dumbly, named. Beyond this roadside specimen is yet another grove of massive giants that takes my breath away. I begin to talk in a whisper and a few of us take a short walk in from the road in order to be surrounded. One senses a version of time on a vastly different scale next to these things. I almost feel like crying, given the ridiculous sense of awe.
That night we have dinner in the local Japanese restaurant and Bob the Mayor comes by our table and welcomes us to town. This is truly a special place.
We head back to the pool table, but it has been commandeered by some local guys who seem to be having a bit of pissing contest, and we don’t want to get involved in that.
We drive through the night to Portland.